The British Defence Secretary has called on retailers to ban a forthcoming installment of Medal of Honor that allows players to control Taliban characters.
The option is not available in the main game storyline, but rather the multiplayer online option in which one side can (and in fact must) play as the Taliban against US forces.
Previous editions of the game have allowed players to control Axis characters in second world war scenarios, but this did not cause as much controversy.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Liam Fox, the British cabinet member responsible for military issues said ” At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”
Fox also said he found it ” shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers.” In fact this isn’t the case as British soldiers don’t feature in the game. A spokesperson for Fox later said this didn’t matter as the point remained that players could control Taliban characters in a setting where British troops operated.
To date there does not appear to be any case of major retailers refusing to stock the game. (Fox’s suggestion that stores “ban” the game is of course meaningless as they don’t have such a power.)
The organization that could have legally prevented the game being sold, the British Board of Film Classification, says it only restricted the game to buyers aged 18 or over to be cautious and had strongly considered allowing it to be sold to those aged 15 or over.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is ultimately responsible for products such as video games, says Fox’s comments were in a personal capacity and that the rating system allows buyers to make informed purchasing decisions.
In a comment issued before Fox spoke out, publishers Electronic Arts said ” We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven. If someone’s the cop, someone’s got to be the robber, someone’s got to be the pirate, somebody’s got to be the alien. In Medal Of Honor multiplayer, someone has to be the Taliban.”